A fascinating computer analysis of the linguistic context around the 2nd Amendment

The Second Amendment is perhaps the most controversial part of the U.S. Bill of Rights. But that's not just because of our grander cultural debate around gun rights and gun violence — it's 'cause the damn thing is such a grammatical clusterfuck.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

27 words in 4 dependent clauses with no clear anything to link them. It's not clear if the thing that shall not be infringed is the well-regulated militia, or the right of the people to keep and bear arms, or if it's all dependent upon what is or is not necessary to the security of a free State. And anyone can make any one of those arguments, and have evidence to back it up that can't be definitively refuted, either.

Over at The Atlantic, James C. Phillips, a Fellow with the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University, and Josh Blackman, a Constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, discuss a novel approach to figuring out what, exactly, the Founding Fathers were actually trying to say: by creating and scanning through a massive database full of more than a billion words culled from formal American and British texts from 1475 to 1800. They specifically searched for instances where phrases such as "bear arms" and "keep arms" were used, and noted the context, the context, and adjacent language that accompanied the phrases to better understand how these terms were actually being used in their historical context. Read the rest

NY's 1974 ban on nunchaku just deemed unconstitutional

In 1974, the State of New York banned nunchuku, the Okinawan martial arts weapon popularized in the US by the classic Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon. On Friday, 44 years later, Brooklyn federal court judge Pamela Chen ruled that the ban is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The plaintiff in the case is a fellow named James Maloney who had been busted nearly 20 years ago for possessing nunchaku in this home. From the Associated Press:

The ruling went over the history of the ban, and said it “arose out of a concern that, as a result of the rising popularity ‘of ‘Kung Fu’ movies and shows,′ ‘various circles of the state’s youth’ — including ‘muggers and street gangs’ — were ‘widely’ using nunchaku to cause ‘many serious injuries.’”..

Maloney, a professor at the State University of New York’s Maritime College, said some of his motivation was outrage. “How could a state simply ban any and all possession of a weapon that had a long and proud history as a martial-arts weapon, with recreational, therapeutic and self-defense utility,” he said.

Maloney also wanted to teach a form of martial art using nunchucks that he created, which he calls “Shafan Ha Lavan” to his sons, the ruling said.

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Gun stores for liberals

I know a bunch of liberal gun owners. Here's an article in Vocativ by Ethan Harfenist and Jacob Steinblatt about this growing group.

Membership increased by 10 percent since election for the Liberal Gun Club, which provides “a voice for gun-owning liberals and moderates in the national conversation on gun rights.” Vocativ found an entire subreddit dedicated to Liberal Gun Owners, a four-year old community that has close to 7,000 subscribers and includes a thread dedicated to liberal gun stores.

It appears that some of those who lean left don’t want to fork over money to shops run by trigger-happy, extreme right-wing folks who sell target sheets shaped like Hillary Clinton and stickers that read “Muslim Free Zone.” It makes sense, at a time when consumers are more aware than ever about the values backed by their favorite businesses and services

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Star-Spangled Banner played by gun sounds like freedom

He'll need an automatic to get the syncopation right, but this gun enthusiast didn't miss a note when playing the US national anthem on Musical Targets. Read the rest